15 Crazy Ideas Were The Only Ideas That Worked
All over the world, billions of dollars are invested into the development of new companies, technologies and theories. But are all these things good for humanity? And who exactly is paying for some of these weird things? Here’s the 15 organisations that have funded crazy ideas.
15 Nankai University – Mind Controlled Car
Researchers at Nankai University in the Chinese city of Tianjin have been developing a system for driving a car with nothing but the power of the mind. The team spent two years creating a headset which scans the electrical patterns of the brain and tells the car to stop, go, turn left and right and even lock the doors. Funded in part by a Chinese automotive company, the car may open doors for the disabled.
14 University National Bank – The Kardashian Kard
To capitalise on the internationally renowned image of the Kardashians, the University National Bank in Minnesota teamed up with the sisters to create a prepaid credit card. Aimed at teenagers and featuring images of the family, the debit card seems like a good idea until you look at the costs to purchase the card, the monthly fees and the cash withdrawal fees, all of which came to nearly $200 a year. The card was cancelled after three weeks with only 250 customers.
13 Google – Human Powered Monorail
In 2010, Google invested one million dollars into an innovative new transport idea. Shweeb is a New-Zealand based project that aims to create a monorail system which is totally pedal powered. Passengers lie in clear plastic pods which hang suspended from a metal track and push the pods with pedals and a number of gears. There are plans to install Shweeb in resorts and hopefully, one day, in cities.
12 University of Bristol – Biscuit Dunking
Who else but the English would have funded a study into the best biscuit (or cookie!) to dip into your afternoon cup of tea? A study in 1998 by the University of Bristol sought to determine the best speed and angle to dip your chocolate cookie, and another piece of research in 2016 by the Institute of Physics looked at the best biscuit for optimal dunking. The winner was the Rich Tea biscuit, a result that shook the nation.
11 NASA – Robot Balls
Perhaps the best candidate for extra terrestrial life in our solar system is Saturn’s moon Titan. It has water and hydrocarbons, but also a treacherous terrain of rocks and methane swamps. This makes normal exploration difficult, so NASA has been working on a system of interconnected rods called the Super Ball Bot. The spherical robot can bounce when dropped from a height and roll over solids or through liquid. It is also very light and requires no parachute.
10 Kickstarter – Molecular Scanner
Crowd funding is the next big thing in investment, and websites like Kickstarter are getting public investments of over 600 million dollars a year. One project, Scio, is portable molecular scanner that analyses the chemical composition of whatever you point it at. It can tell you what medicine you’re taking or even tell you how much fat is in your slice of cheese. A smartphone with a Scio integrated into it’s system has also been announced.
9 Colgate – Frozen Meals
The frozen meal has been around since 1945, and is a highly competitive market. In a risky move, the dental company Colgate entered the business in 1982 with their range of kitchen entrees. The company hoped that the snacks might lead to even more sales of their toothcare products. However, it seems that consumers could only think of toothpaste when they saw the Colgate brand and assumed that’s what the chilled goods would taste like.
8 British Ministry of Defence – Cloud Seeding
A long-running conspiracy theory in the UK claims that the 1952 flood in South West England, which killed 32 people, was caused by a military experiment. There is some evidence that the Royal Air Force was testing technology known as ‘cloud-seeding’ where aeroplanes would drop chemicals in clouds causing them to rain immediately. The British military have denied any interference, but accounts from pilots show that they really did figure out how to ‘make it rain’.
7 University of Minnesota – Swimming in Syrup
Imagine two swimmers; one of them is in a pool of water and the other in a pool of thick syrup. Who do you think would swim faster? The University of Minnesota tested this question by filling a 25-metre pool with water and gum and it turns out that both swimmers would move just as fast. Although the gloopy syrup creates more drag on your body, it allows you to push yourself harder through the liquid.
6 Nasa – Squid Rover
In another effort to find the best vehicle for exploring moons like Europa or Titan, NASA has turned to nature for design inspiration. The soft robotic rover resembles a giant squid with a flexible body and light up skin. It also has the potential to generate its own energy from the water itself. Perfect for navigating oceans under the ice of cold moons, this tentacled technology has so far received $100,000 in funding.
5 The Pentagon – Beef Jerky
Military spending in the US has often come under heavy criticism, and a good example of this is the 1.5 million dollars that the Pentagon invested into developing a special roll up beef jerky. It sounds like the perfect snack for an agent with an appetite, even if the money did come out of the weapons program. Although tastier and cheaper than alternatives, I’m not sure I want my jerky in rolls like toilet paper.
4 The Vatican – Animal Human Hybrids
In 1600, the Catholic Church burned a man at the stake for suggesting that the universe was infinite and attacked Galileo for stating that the Earth revolved around the Sun. So it may be surprising that today the Vatican has a research fund that includes space exploration and medical studies using stem cells. Pope Francis is said to have approved a study that injects human cells into pig embryos, creating a pork-person chimera.
3 Albany Medical College – Coked up Jazz Rats
Albany Medical College received grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to test rats’ appreciation of jazz and classical music. They found that rats didn’t care much for the sounds until they were given cocaine. The results suggest that the drug fuelled rodents choose Miles Davis over Beethoven when they’re high, but prefer silence when sober. Some people have criticised the experiment as a waste of money… but it sure sounds fun.
2 Kickstarter – Potato Salad
in 2014, Zack Brown posted his idea for investment on kickstarter. His page said “Basically, I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.” Zack was asking for $10 for his potato project but he ended up receiving well over $50,000 from amused investors. Of course, Zack made the dish and even released a potato salad cookbook. It goes to show that sometimes, if you want something, all you gotta do is ask.
1 DARPA – The Mecha Elephant
In 1966, DARPA, the US Defense research agency, was studying how to improve mobility over the cross-country terrain of Vietnam. The research lead to a project to develop a mechanical elephant that would stomp through the jungle on powered legs. The director of DARPA called it a “damn fool” idea and cut funding before the public found out. It probably would have been cheaper just to use real elephants.